SCORES of excited shoppers queued for the opening of a huge new Next store today.
There were cheers as regional manager Andy Lewis cut the ribbon at the doors to the store, in Solent Retail Park, in Havant.
Now people will come to Havant instead of having to drive out of it.Emma Wilson
The clothing and homeware giant moved just a few hundred yards from its previous site into a much larger unit, with a Costa coffee shop on the first floor.
It has meant a jobs boost for the area which is expected to throng with more shoppers once the new Marks and Spencer opens next door in the summer.
And Mothercare will shortly be opening in the empty Next units.
Shopper Emma Wilson, from Horndean said the new shop will bring people to the area.
‘I absolutely love Next and I love Costa so this is perfect for me,’ she said. ‘At the moment I travel to Hedge End because that’s the nearest big store.
‘It’s the same with Marks and Spencer. Now people will come to Havant instead of having to drive out of it.’
Havant MP Alan Mak said business confidence in Havant is high.
Councillor David Guest, who is responsible for economy and planning at Havant Borough Council, said: ‘I was absolutely thrilled when I arrived this morning to see so many people in Next.
‘It’s exceptionally good news on the job front as they’re employing 100 people. And, despite the fact it’s now the third Costa in Havant, it was absolutely packed. There wasn’t a seat to be had.
‘M&S are also investing. It just gets better and better.’
Cllr Guest said ‘doom-mongers’ who predicted the end of shopping in Havant when Tesco doubled in size five years ago have been proved wrong.
‘It’s quite the opposite,’ said Cllr Guest. ‘We have more shops opening up in South, North, West and East Streets.
‘People can park for two hours in the retail park and wander over to the town centre.
‘It’s a wonderful shopping opportunity.’